The end of the story left Yujia a bit speechless.
As if thrown back to her feelings from more than a month ago, when she found out about Hui'er and her involvement with the First Miss. She wanted to sympathize with the woman in front of her. If she was placed in the same situation, she wasn't confident if she could say that she would act differently. Yet, at the same time, after seeing the amount of misery Yang Qingxia went through— the emotional trauma she carried to this day— she didn't think that the madam was completely justified either. It shouldn't have been her choice to make.
But again, when Yujia thought about the things Madam Zhang went through, she couldn't blame the woman either.
She was glad that Madam Zhang didn't break out crying or show much emotions. Throughout the entire story, she kept her composure, unflinching even during difficult topics. If Madam Zhang was like Hui'er, who would burst out into tears, Yujia would be even more conflicted.
Finally, when she gathered her voice again, she asked, "What about… the poison? You mentioned… my mother is poisoning you." That part of the story explained how Yujia saw Madam Zhang's personal maid fetching medicine from the store that one time. She probably carried health problems all this time. "But what about how… I'm poisoned? You didn't poison me?"
"No," Madam Zhang answered, the corners of her lips turning up, "though it is very interesting, the case with your poison. I confronted Liu Yuxi again, a few years after you were brought into the villa. That was where I found out about the betrayal my father committed. She blamed me for poisoning her, while she was giving birth to you. The tragic reality, however, that she refused to face, was something I dug up after her accusation. She kept many poisons in her vials of pills and medicine. On the day that she was giving birth to you, by herself, she grabbed the wrong vial by accident— the exact same vial that contained the poison she fed me and my sister."
Lips parting, Yujia asked with bewilderment, "Wasn't that poison made to kill? How can I be alive, if she is alive as well?"
"I am under the impression that she realized her mistake the moment she took the wrong vial. She kept an antidote as well, so she likely quickly took that afterwards. Of course, that did not mean that you would keep your perfect health, but both of you managed to survive," Madam Zhang explained. Her smile grew a little wider as she folded her hands. "Isn't it amusing how life does this? Poisoned by the same poison you gave— it is karma, I believe."
Yujia bit her lip. "I… see."
So, that was the entire story.
Even though there were differences in Madam Zhang's and Madam Liu's versions, Yujia found herself believing Madam Zhang more. The woman in front of her did not care about Yujia's impression of her. There was no benefit in lying compared to telling the truth. On the other hand, Madam Liu certainly cared about the affection her daughter felt for her. She had perfect reason to hide the truth from Yujia— that for the sake of revenge, she was willing to kill. Yujia could piece together both sides of the tale to get a fair understanding of what had happened overall.
After hearing all of this, Yujia also found herself feeling conflicted about her birthmother's character. She could understand how Madam Liu felt deep hatred for the Zhang Family for ruining her family, yet people like Zhang Ruoqing were innocent. Zhang Ruoqing didn't deserve this. Yang Qingxia didn't deserve it either. Except, when Liu Yuxi had discovered that she had harmed the innocent, she didn't show any signs of guilt— at least, according to Madam Zhang's side of the story.
Because of these thoughts, Yujia decided to maintain a distance from her birthmother. Perhaps she would still pay her visits, but Yujia wouldn't go out of her way to visit Liu Yuxi frequently— the same way that she wouldn't visit Madam Zhang for company's sake all the time either.
As Yujia thought, Madam Zhang unfolded her hands and tapped her nails against the table. "I have one other speculation as well. Would you like to hear?"
"The time that you were poisoned at birth may have been by accident, but it is possible that your birthmother continued to poison you as you grew up."
Upon hearing this, Yujia froze. "Please… explain," she whispered.
"It is only a speculation— so do not take it for fact— yet it is very possible. You were separated from your birthmother for a long time, as a child. Only when you were slightly older, a little less than a decade later, were you finally permitted to pay visits. But to you, at the time, Liu Yuxi was nothing more than a stranger. Even when the Old Master would explain to you that she was your true mother, you would be unwilling to leave his side to spend time with her. This is what I've heard from things he's told me. Liu Yuxi is an insecure woman— you should know that by now— and so, perhaps, in order to obtain your love, she would poison you. You would suffer poor health, and when you visited her again by chance, she would slip you the antidote. You would feel better after visiting her, and after doing this a few times, your mind will naturally be impacted to associate good health with visiting your birthmother, and develop positive feelings after that."
Yujia thought about that. She thought about what the physician said, about being poisoned since childhood. She thought about how after not visiting Madam Liu for around a month after transmigrating, her health had improved by bounds.
Suddenly, she felt a wave of fear and disgust.
Would Liu Yuxi really do that? Would she really have the heart to poison her own child, just to get some manipulated love like that?
"I only thought so," Madam Zhang continued, "after observing some of your health patterns, as well as the willingness you had for visiting your mother increasing by leaps and bounds. But again— this nothing more than a speculation. You should ask her yourself."
"I… will," Yujia stated, clenching her hands.
Thank the heavens that she didn't eat or drink anything when she visited Madam Liu last time.
"One last thing," Yujia decided to ask, changing the topic, "my personal maid— Hui'er. Li Huiyu. She served the First Miss before me. You asked her to poison the First Miss for you. I could not find her during my time undercover as a maid. What happened to her?"
"She stayed in the villa for a while after your disappearance. After that, she came to me and asked to be freed from her servitude. I considered what she had done, and permitted it."
Yujia felt her heart sink. Hui'er knew that she was at Lingxin. She made sure to drop hints of that in her note to Hui'er that she scribbled before she escaped, on her wedding day. Other than those hints, Hui'er had always known about Yuija's status as a disciple.
Despite this knowledge, Hui'er still didn't go find her, after freedom.
Yujia didn't blame the girl. She had spent more than five years in servitude, growing up as someone stepped over by society. Not to mention: the Fourth Miss had abused her daily, and even if Yujia treated her kindly once transmigrated, she still had to deal with the trauma.
Thinking of the possibility of if Yujia was in that situation, she would feel hesitant about facing her old young miss too. Regardless of the friendship, Yujia still wore the face of her old abuser.
If Hui'er was free now, then that was good for her. Yujia hoped that the girl was in a good place, and that despite their diverging paths, perhaps they could meet again in the future. If they never crossed paths after that, then it was just fated to be. That was the reality of the situation.
Standing up, Yujia stretched her arms. She gave a small smile, then said, "Thank you for your story. Now, though, I think I should go. The Fifth Miss is still waiting outside."
Madam Zhang nodded. "Talking of the past has fatigued me. You may have your discussion with her, but I would advise to not stay for long. I will retire to my courtyard, with your information." She picked up the box of records.
"Alright. Good luck," Yujia said.
With that, the two of them left the room.
The feeling of closure, knowing that all of her hard work investigating, finally led to this moment, where the majority of the mystery had unraveled itself, was indeed something satisfying.
Of course, not all the mysteries were solved. Yujia still had questions, about her dreams, about transmigration. Except, those were mysteries that she didn't necessarily need to focus on right away. They were mysteries that she didn't even know if she had the capability to solve, or even needed to.
So, for the first time in a long time, Yujia could finally relax. And that was the best part of closure, for her.
finallyy, a conclusion to the mystery arc <3
*romance coming up? yes? maybe? hehe*
please vote and comment if u enjoyed <3
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